Monday, May 08, 2006

Conflating the Identities of Humans and Animals

In my previous post about Animal Rights, I revealed the two alternatives posed by behaviorists and intrinsicists: the former believes that humans are not much different (if at all) than other animals, while the latter believes that we are positively superior to animals – because we are smarter and more sophisticated. I identified that both alternatives rest on a false premise: that humans and animals are measured for difference on a linear, quantitative scale – that the behaviorists place humans only a few points higher (if at all) than animals, whereas the intrinsicists place humans dramatically higher on this linear scale. The premise is that humans and animals have the same characteristics, only in differing degrees. That the identities of humans and animals are essentially the same, though differing only in some aspects like the amount of intellectual brain development. I argued that there is fundamental and radical difference between humans and animals. That we are not on some quantitatively higher position of superiority than animals, but on an altogether different standard of measurement. Our fundamental identities are dramatically different – not just in differing degrees, but totally, and absolutely. I pointed out that human consciousness possesses the faculty of volition that is only unique to us as a species. This faculty is absent among other species, and therefore our essential identities are radically different. Humans are not animals in any but the most narrow, physiological sense of the word. Just a few minutes ago, I happened to read Roger Donway’s article “How Individualist Is Human Nature?” Given the title, I believe the article is entirely superfluous – one should quickly be able to reject the whole evolutionary theorists’ premise of pre-programmed concepts like Individualism, altruism, selfishness, etc. hard-wired into the brain based on the very fact that those are higher level *cognitive* concepts that cannot exist without a developed *cognitive* faculty! Furthermore, I have deep criticism for Roger’s analysis of Evolutionary psychology. I may critique his article in detail in a separate post. My point in bringing up his article in the context of my discussion on animal rights is to show just one example of determinists and behaviorists positing the complete negation of human identity as a rational being with the faculty of volition – as a being that is radically different from animals based on the nature of his consciousness. By refusing to recognize the different natures of human and animal consciousness, they posit the negation of identity itself – human identity and animal identity – thus, conflating the two and abolishing the proper foundation for morality and rights, and fundamentally, for existence itself. If existence is identity, and that if a human exists he exists with an identity, then to deny the identity of a human being is to deny the very existence of man qua man. Of course, then what you get is human qua animal; a brute; a mindless thug functioning on automatic instinct, and left at the mercy of unknown causes in his brain. In the article, Roger cites an evolutionary psychologist who says ““The brain is a physical system whose operation is governed solely by the laws of chemistry and physics. What does this mean? It means that all your thoughts and hopes and dreams and feelings are produced by chemical reactions going on in your head.” What they wish to argue is that the chemical reactions produced in your brain allegedly precludes, out of necessity, any faculty of free will and volition – even the possibility of such a faculty as existing. Moreover, the entire enterprise of writing a book, or formulating a theory is, according to them, nothing more than the effects of causal chains of chemical reactions. Matt Ridley, whose book is the focus of Roger’s article, “ridicules those who believe that “we are conscious, rational, and free-willed, not like those inferior things called animals.”” The deterministic, behaviorist trend in psychology (and other fields) openly reveal their contempt for human identity and reason. To deny the faculty of volition in human consciousness is to deny the functioning method of our rational faculty. The operation of reason rests upon the faculty of volition. Choice is the effect caused by the nature of our consciousness. If there is no free will, there can be no faculty of reason.

1 Comments:

Blogger Semperviva said...

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i miss u. what the hell is up?
-soph

5/09/2006 12:42:00 AM  

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